We must cultivate our garden (City) : utopian thinking in Singaporean politics
Date of Issue2016
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Singapore’s PAP government creates a highly specific image of the ideal citizen and deploys this utopian mode of thinking to manage the population and shift the burden of care from the state to individuals. The ideology of meritocracy and personal responsibility is used as justification to incentivise desirable behaviour and penalise undesirable behaviour. One’s moral worth and deservingness is evaluated according to extent to which one follows the rules set out by the government. Rather than being the birthright of all citizens, social goods that form the basis of a good life are “benefits” than can be awarded or withdrawn depending on one’s conduct. Citizens are led to internalise feelings of guilt and self-blame when they need to rely on government assistance, which results in self-governing behaviour and the erosion of citizens’ ability to make moral claims for fair treatment and redistributive justice – ideas that become almost unthinkable.
DRNTU::Social sciences::Sociology::Social control